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Reading By 9.

When we celebrated ACEI 2000 in Baltimore, many of us wondered about "Reading by 9," the slogan printed prominently on mugs, pencils, and other conference memorabilia. One group of teachers discussing the phrase started bantering, "9 what? 9 o'clock? Reading by 9 o'clock? a.m. or p.m.?" Clever guess, but it means 9 years of age! You mean 9-year-olds are finally getting some attention? While 9-year-old children always have been noticed and appreciated by their parents and teachers, now their reading achievements are being noticed by those involved in global literacy initiatives. Reading by 9 means that children should be reading successfully by 9 years of age. How did Reading by 9 gain so much attention in our conference city of Baltimore?

The Baltimore Sun developed a five-year plan to improve children's reading skills. The Sun's leadership in this community initiative focuses on promoting reading instruction that will produce gains in the percentage of 9-year-olds who can read independently at or above a 3rd-grade level.

Why 9-year-olds? Most authorities agree that children who are not successful readers by the age of 9 will face a lifetime struggle with literacy. It is generally understood that children learn to read in their 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-grade experiences; then, they use their reading skills and strategies to learn. Frustrated readers are likely to encounter obstacles in many areas of their lives. To be fair to our children, Reading by 9 must become a reality, as well as a slogan.

What, in addition to publicity, has The Baltimore Sun done to promote reading for our children? They have offered news and editorials, feature articles, special sections, television segments, community partnerships, and tutoring. The school-based tutoring will involve more than 150 of The Sun's employees as volunteer reading tutors in area schools. These community helpers most likely will provide 5,000 to 10,000 hours of service in schools a year. That volunteer time will prove to be invaluable as it translates into reading time for many children.

No doubt about it, time spent reading is important for children. Many scholars agree that time spent in small- or whole-group instruction and time spent in independent reading promotes reading success. Taylor and other researchers at the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (1999) found that home communication, student engagement, time spent reading independently, and time spent in reading instruction (with emphasis on word recognition approaches and comprehension instruction) contribute to success in reading.

For Reading by 9 to be truly successful, students in middle childhood must be given opportunities to read. Reading skills and strategies must be used to learn. Students ages 9 to 15 (and older) need to have windows of time to invest in reading, plus ample support. For these students, choice of reading material is vital to their growing independence.

The Reading by 9 initiative reaches farther than Baltimore. The same kinds of activities may be practiced in many communities throughout the world. To learn more about the Reading by 9 initiative, consult the references cited below. Perhaps you would like to share ideas and activities that you are involved in to promote reading for students in intermediate and middle childhood with other ACEI members. If so, please send an E-mail to I look forward to hearing from you.

Cordially, Jeanie Burnett, Vice President Representing intermediate/ Middle Childhood

Selected References

The Baltimore Sun Web site: http:// section=readingby9

Moore, D., Bean, T., Birdyshaw, D., & Rycik, J. (1999). Adolescent literacy: A position statement for the Commission of Adolescent Literacy of the international Reading Association. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Taylor, B., Pearson, P. D., Clark, K., & Walpole, S. (1999). Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement: Effective schools/ accomplished teachers. Reading Teacher, 53(2), 156-159.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:literacy program
Author:Burnett, Jeanie
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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